My Writing, Writing

Ten Things I Hate About Being a Writer

Don’t get me wrong – I love writing, especially now, despite all the gazillion rejections streaming in on a daily basis. I am finally enjoying the process, rather than indulging in the thrills of “having written.”

However there are quite a few things I don’t like about being a writer:

  1. So much to write, so little time

This is not the fault of writing of course, but it does demand intense concentration and time. The creative gene inspires ideas but the world doesn’t grant us the time to write all of them. It also takes away time from socializing in the real word – I’ve skipped many a weekend party in favour of writing.

  1. Sometimes, the words just don’t come

After stealing all that time, when I sit down to write, the words that bombard my brain at all the wrong times retreat into a shell and need immense coaxing to draw them out.

  1. When the words come, they’re crap

The first draft of everything is crap. It may improve with practice but sometimes it’s so bad it’s better to scrap it all and start again.

  1. When we send our stuff out we get rejections

In more than five years of writing and submitting, I can count only a handful of times that a piece I sent out was accepted by the first place I sent it to. My story that won 2nd place in the On The Premises contest last year is a good example of this.

  1. When we don’t send stuff out we’re not moving forward

The fear of rejection and submitting makes us hold on to our creative efforts, but without sending it out we’re not really taking ourselves to the next level

  1. We have to believe we’re the best in order to succeed

Writers need supreme confidence in themselves and their work so they can pitch agents and publishers and plough through despite all the rejections

  1. We have to accept we’re not the best so that we can improve in order to succeed

Writers also need to turn a critical eye on themselves so they can humbly accept feedback and revise their work to near-perfection

  1. Stuff that looks perfect today looks crap the next day

The final draft is never final and even after time and distance away from it when I see it next I feel its way below par.

  1. The right word lies on the tip of the tongue and rarely ever comes out

The struggle to find the word that exactly matches what you’re thinking of is perpetual. A thesaurus makes it easier but not always.

  1. Looks easy but is very tough to do

This is the biggest problem with writing – the easiest writing that looks the most effortless is actually the hardest to do.

How do you feel about writing these days? Anything you can add to the above list? W

Humour, Writing

How I Overcame Writer’s Doubt and Saved the World

I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: Overcoming Writer’s Doubt’ held by Positive Writer.

Show me a writer and I’ll show you doubt. Writers all over the world harbour all kinds of misgivings about their voice, the number of adverbs in their stories, the Flesch-Kincaid level of their writing and many other such seemingly trivial issues.

My writer’s doubt was a little different.

Around this time last year, I’d taken a stab at revamping my first novel. Revamping is a polite word – what I really mean is ‘rewriting’. A contest lurked on the horizon, which required 3 chapters and a synopsis. Of course, I didn’t have time to rewrite the whole manuscript but surely I could slap together the first few chapters and a summary, couldn’t I?

Indeed, I could. I still didn’t have a lot of time, but I kept my nose to the grindstone and churned them out. I grabbed my critique partners by their virtual collars and dashed the partial off to them, demanding snappy reviews be sent back ASAP. They obliged, and minutes before the deadline, I sneaked in my entry.

Of course, I didn’t win. I didn’t even place.

That’s when doubt, in all its might and glory, struck me. Now, my hesitation wasn’t the usual – “is my writing good enough” variety.

It was the mega-jumbo-super-mammoth version. The exact words in my mind were:

Do I even have the ability to tell a story?

At this point, I’d had around 4 published pieces in journals spread out over a few years. So when I asked myself this question, I assumed that the previous ones were flukes, and that now I needed to get down and prove that I can tell a story – coherently, succinctly, and for the reader’s general entertainment.

But how to do it? It’s easier said than done. It had taken me 2-3 years to complete each of my novels, by wresting the few free hours leftover after finishing my day job. If I set out to prove my writing chops via novels, I’d be around 80 by the time I had anything to show for my efforts.

So I had a brainwave, and opted for the shorter route. I decided to try my hand, once again, at polishing and publishing my stories.

This time, I pulled up my sleeves and stepped into the murky waters of plot and characterization and that bane of writers existence – literary writing. I read story collections, I collected them like fridge magnets and pored over stories that online journals were publishing, to get a feel of what works and what can be done better.

Then I did the only other thing left to do – write.

I wrote the stories. Then I polished them. I wrote some more, and polished some more.

Since making my ground-breaking decision, I have had 5 stories published in a span of 6 months.

I’m part of the Short Story Challenge, which means I’m sharpening my knives and polishing more stories. Literary journals online are, at this very moment, snowed down under mountains of submissions with my name on them.

I guess there’s only one conclusion to be drawn – I can tell a story! That, and even if I couldn’t, I’d die trying.

That’s how I overcame writer’s doubt and saved the world (from another frustrated suicidal writer). How about you? Do you have a story to share about overcoming doubt in any form?